Government Making Home Ownership More Affordable

Photo: Rudranath Fraser Prime Minister, the Most Hon. Andrew Holness (centre), breaks ground for the National Housing Trust’s $4.1-billion Ruthven Towers housing development on Ruthven Road in St. Andrew, on Friday, September 22. Others (from left) are Custos Rotulorum for Kingston, Hon. Steadman Fuller; NHT Managing Director, Martin Miller; Minister without Portfolio in the Ministry of Economic Growth and Job Creation, Hon. Dr. Horace Chang; NHT Chairman, Dr. Nigel Clarke; Member of Parliament for South East St. Andrew, where the project is located, Julian Robinson; and Custos Rotulorum for St Andrew, Hon. Patricia Dunwell.

Story Highlights

  • For many Jamaicans, owning a piece of the rock, a home, which they can pass down to future generations, is one of the most important life goals.
  • Eduardo Ferguson tells JIS News that the move by the Administration is a commendable one, as it is ensuring that all Jamaicans, not only those from the upper echelons of society, are provided with an opportunity to own a home.
  • By combining their mortgage loan and the home grant amount, these contributors should be able to purchase a unity equivalent in value to an NHT studio. Previously, contributors benefited from a maximum home grant of $1.5 million.

For many Jamaicans, owning a piece of the rock, a home, which they can pass down to future generations, is one of the most important life goals.

The Government is making it easier for persons to realise their dream by implementing a raft of measures to make home ownership easier and more affordable.

These include increasing the National Housing Trust (NHT) loan ceiling, reducing the interest rates on mortgages for lower-income groups, providing 100 per cent financing for all NHT units, improving home grants, and establishing a special grant for persons with disabilities to assist with retrofitting their houses.

Since July 1, thousands of persons have been able to access more funds to purchase houses on the open market and NHT-financed scheme units, and build on own land, through an increase in the loan ceiling from $4.5 million to $5.5 million.

In addition, the loan limit for the 15-plus loan category has been increased to $2.5 million from $1.5 million.

This is for contributors who want to repair, improve or expand an existing mortgaged property or those who want to purchase or construct a residential property once the beneficiary is no longer a homeowner.

With this new policy, two qualified NHT contributors can co-apply and access up to $5 million for home improvements.

In addition, the house lot loan limit has been increased to $2.5 million from $2 million.

The NHT now offers 100 per cent mortgage financing for all housing units it produces. This means that the Trust will lend qualified contributors the full amount required to buy NHT units, providing that they can afford the monthly loan payments.

A number of persons are welcoming the new policy measures.

Eduardo Ferguson tells JIS News that the move by the Administration is a commendable one, as it is ensuring that all Jamaicans, not only those from the upper echelons of society, are provided with an opportunity to own a home.

 

The 33-year-old customer service representative says the changes have placed him in a better position to access benefits.

“I (have) always aspired to own my own home; it’s one of the many things on the (life goals) checklist that I have,” he shares.

For Melanie Whyte, who is a renter, investing in her own home is now a reality.

She says she has long wanted to make the switch from paying rent to putting her hard-earned money into something she can call her own.

“When you are paying rent, while you have somewhere to reside, that place belongs to someone else. On the contrary, when you are paying towards your mortgage, that house will be yours in the end,” she tells JIS News.

The Government has also provided a $150,000 grant to NHT mortgagors with disabilities or those who reside with and care for family members with disabilities. The grant is to be used to retrofit/upgrade the dwelling to make it suitable to serve their needs.

The individual with the disability must be residing at the mortgaged property and registered with the Jamaica Council for Persons with Disabilities (JCPD).

Contributors who are disabled and earn $30,000 per week or less will borrow at a rate of zero per cent.

Meanwhile, contributors earning below $12,000 weekly and who have been contributing for over seven years, will be able to access up to $2.5 million for an NHT home grant.

By combining their mortgage loan and the home grant amount, these contributors should be able to purchase a unity equivalent in value to an NHT studio. Previously, contributors benefited from a maximum home grant of $1.5 million.

 

NHT contributors are taking advantage of the new policy measures, with Prime Minister, the Most Hon. Andrew Holness, announcing recently that the entity is set to deliver a historic 8,000 mortgages this financial year.

This will amount to approximately $28 billion of housing loans.

The Prime Minister said the NHT is delivering on the mandate set by the Government to build more houses.
“We are not just building houses in the high-income category, we’re not building houses alone in the middle-income category but we are building mostly housing solutions for persons above minimum wage,” he notes.

The Prime Minister says the Government is ensuring that the required infrastructure is in place to meet the demands of a growing population.

The NHT housing programme for the 2017/2018 financial year will see the commencement of construction of almost 6,000 housing solutions across Jamaica. The target is 15,000 over the next three years.

Housing developments under construction include Ruthven Towers in St. Andrew; Colbeck Castle 1 and 2 in Clarendon/St. Catherine; Longville 2A and Monymusk 2 in Clarendon; Barham, Darliston and Masemure in Westmoreland; and The Estuary and Cashew Grove in St. James.

The NHT is an entity set up by the Government to lend money at low interest rates to contributors who wish to build, buy or repair/improve their houses or who wish to buy or build on lots.

The NHT also develops housing schemes for sale to contributors and provides low-cost financing to private developers.

JIS Social